Title: Can I Keep You?
Warnings: Unbeta-ed, post-Vision, light shounen-ai
Word Count: 4286
Main Character(s): Wataru, Mitsuru, Aya, Kacchan, Kuniko, brief mention of Kee-Keema, Miina and Cutts
Summary: Takes place five years after Wataru's adventure in Vision. One shot.
Disclaimer: Brave Story, characters and settings are copyright to Miyabe Miyuki and Gonzo.
AN: There wasn't much Brave Story fanfics around so I wrote one, mainly for my self. I wanted it to be light shounen-ai, I had to set it to the future about five years post-Vision. Otherwise, it would have been strange to have ten year old boys kissing each other. Title is actually from a line in Casper where Casper-turned-human asked Kat if he could keep her.
It has been five years, hasn't it? Mitani Wataru lifted up a hand to shield his face from the bright glare of the sun. Five years since his adventure in another world called Vision. He wondered, not for the first time, what Miina, Kee-Keema and Cutts were doing now. Whether has Miina found her father, if Kee-Keema was still rumbling along in that rickety wagon of his, or Cutts still fighting for justice as a Highlander.
Five years had passed, and there had been many changes. Wataru's mother now had a steady job as a typist at a secretarial company. They still lived at the modest apartment unit Wataru grew up in. Wataru himself was now in his last year of junior high school, busy with the school's softball team, preparing for the year end final exam and going to cram school twice a week. His friendship with Ashikawa Mitsuru had turned for the better. Both were now very close friends.
Mitsuru... Wataru's face turned somber. Mitsuru, after returning from Vision, had forgotten about the other world and what he'd done there. It was as if his memory of the place had never existed, despite it being him who had shown Wataru the door and the one who had told him to change his fate. Wataru had been upset at first that Misturu didn't remember anything about the other world or the gate but gradually, he realized that it was probably for the better. No one liked to remember what cruel deeds they'd done, even if done with the good intentions.
Misturu's fate had changed, Wataru reflected. Even though his parents still died, his sister, Aya, lived. That was all that mattered to Mitsuru. As long as Aya was with him, everything will be all right. Wataru smiled a little.
A small shadow fell on his face, rapidly growing larger.
"Eh-Uwah!" Wataru found himself flat on his back, a throbbing headache right on his forehead and seeing stars before his eyes, even though it was broad daylight.
"Wataru! Are you all right?" Kacchan was leaning over him, concern on his tanned face.
"What hit me?" He took the offered hand, sitting up and touching his forehead. He winced when his fingers came in contact. It was going to be the size of a goose egg later.
"Mitani, are you all right?" Their PE teacher appeared as their classmates surrounded them. A few were snickering. Most were sympathetic. Despite its given name, a softball was not soft at all. Wataru could attest to that right now. "Someone better get him to the nurse's office."
Kacchan volunteered. The PE teacher dismissed them both before turning to bellow at the rest of the students to continue their game or he'd have them run 100 laps around the track. Within minutes, the students scattered, resuming their softball game.
The nurse sent Kacchan out as soon as she bundled Wataru in bed, telling him he can come back later. She laid an ice pack on the bump on his forehead, telling him not to go to sleep as he probably had a concussion.
Staring up at the ceiling was boring as was counting the many cracks in it. The nurse had gone somewhere to run an errand, leaving him with strict instructions to stay in bed or else. He adjusted the ice pack on his forehead so it won't slip off. It was freezing and probably half-melted by now. He could feel his eyes closing as well.
The door opening and closing had him wide awake and turning his head to look but that made the ice pack slid off his forehead and landing on the bed. Not that he could make out who is was anyway, with the curtains firmly closed aroud the bed. He wondered if it was Kacchan sneaking back in. Any thoughts of Kacchan fled when the person made his presence known by his bedside.
"Mitsuru! Ow..." Wataru still found himself grinning, despite the flare of pain.
"Wataru, you idiot." Mitsuru gingerly sat on the bed, near where Wataru's hand is. He reached out, picking up the ice pack and placing it back on the bump. "How are you feeling?"
"Better. Did Kacchan told you about me?"
"I heard it from one of the boys in your class." Mitsuru shook his head, the look on his face a mixture of exasperation and fondness. "Honestly, Wataru. Daydreaming in the middle of a softball game? You could have put an eye out."
"I wasn't daydreaming," said Wataru, slightly aggrieved. "I was thinking."
"Not a very good thing to do."
"Ashikawa," said Wataru, reverting to Mitsuru's last name as a playful warning.
"Mitani," the other boy said in return. Their mouths twitched with suppressed laughter.
"How are you? I haven't see you in the last two days," said Wataru, instead. The teasing could go on, if only because Mitsuru was very patient and had a wicked sense of humour. That was another change in the once bitter boy.
"I'm fine, Wataru." Mitsuru smiled. "I have been busy with revisions for the final exams. You should know that."
"I know." Wataru knew that, since he and Mitsuru called each other every night, regardless of whether they saw each other or not. Still, he had this nagging fear that if he didn't ask, Mitsuru might revert back to before or worse, disappear. "I just wanted to make sure you're all right," he mumbled, feeling slightly foolish.
The memory of Mitsuru vanishing in his arms in particles of light had been his nightmare for the last four years and he didn't want to have to experience that feeling again.
"You're so strange, Wataru," Mitsuru murmured, and leaned forward until their noses were only inches apart. This close, Wataru could see the the faint smattering of freckles across the bridge of Mitsuru's nose and how long his eyelashes are, a sooty colour that was a contrast to his lighter colour hair. His eyes were so deep a brown they were almost opaque and black.
It was last year when their female schoolmates started to notice Mitsuru that Wataru did as well. The five years had been kind to Mitsuru. He was no longer the resentful, bitter boy he once had been. He and Aya were adopted by an aunt from his mother's side. He was still pensive and quiet at times but was more stoic than anything. He had grown taller during last year, though he was still two inches shorter than Wataru and was more on the wiry side than broad. It gave him a delicate, almost fragile appearance that made Wataru wanted to shield him in his arms from the harshness of the outside world. It was also during that time that Wataru realised his changing feelings to Mitsuru. He couldn't explain it well in words, only that he wanted to be a little more than just best friends with the other boy. If Mitsuru had noticed any changes, he had said nothing, deigning to keep quiet. Wataru was a little grateful and a little sad about it but said nothing as well.
"Mit-Misturu?" Wataru felt heat rushing to his face and knew his face must be red right now at the sudden close proximity. He knew that Mitsuru was most probably trying to see if he was all right or something but this close until he could feel the warmth of Mitsuru's breath which made his heart start drumming his chest a little faster than usual.
He wanted to press his mouth against Mitsuru's.
"I'll got get the nurse," announced Mitsuru, suddenly leaning back and getting up.
"No! Wait!" Wataru grabbed at his friend's hand. "I- I'm fine, Mitsuru." At the doubtful look, Wataru spoke more firmly. "I'm really fine."
"If you say so," said Mitsuru, though his tone was still doubtful and there was something like concern behind his eyes. "Your face was really red just now."
"Ahaha, probably just from the heat." Wataru let out a nervous chuckle, lifting one hand up to his face only to come in contact with the goose egg on his forehead. He winced. Thoughts of feeling the softness of Mitsuru's mouth against his fled at the slight pain.
Mitsuru didn't look convinced but was willing to let go for now. For that, Wataru was glad. He didn't want to have to explain the reason for his sudden suffuse of colour.
Conversations fell into benign talk after that, about homework, the antics of their classmates and the final exams at the end of the year until the nurse came back from her errand and checked him over before declaring he is fit to go home. She shooed them away, telling Wataru to be more careful next time to which the boy grinned and thanked her.
Kacchan was waiting by the genkan, satchel hung over one shoulder and his shoes in hand. "Wataru! I would have come to see you but that Sasaki-sensei wasn't having any of it. 'Mitani-san won't die if you aren't there, Kadokawa-san.' Tch." He seemed to have noticed Mitsuru and his expression changed. "Ashikawa."
Mitsuru nodded at him, heading to his own shoebox to take out his shoes.
"Sasaki-sensei piled on homework again. How are you feeling? Are you feeling a little dizzy? The nurse said you'd feel that way after such a hard hit," said Kacchan, in a more normal tone than the lively one just now. He always seemed more reserved when around Mitsuru. Wataru chalked it to Kacchan being a little uncomfortable around Mitsuru. After all, he could be quite intimidating sometimes.
"Um, a little but not too bad. I won't be falling down dizzy on the street. It'll be better once I get home, I think."
"You're going to have a bruise tomorrow," Kacchan said, peering close at his forehead. The close proximity felt different than when Mitsuru did it earlier. For one, it didn't make the blood rush to his cheeks or his heart to start hammering.
"Ready to go?" Mitsuru appeared at his side, making him jump slightly. "I have to pick Aya up."
"Oh! Ah, let me get my shoes first."
The walk was punctuated by polite small talk. Mostly made by Wataru to fill in the silence between his two friends. After ten minutes, they came to a crossing where Kacchan parted ways with them, heading to his parents' store to help out.
"I'll see you tomorrow morning, Wataru!" The boy waved then disappeared around the corner.
The silence between them now was filled by the sounds of the cars passing by them. Sunlight spread its ochre light across everything in its path, turning everything a fiery orange-red, as if the buildings had all been set aflame.
"You could be nicer to Kacchan," chided Wataru, gently. It was useless, though, and he knew it. Kacchan and Mitsuru had both never tried to like each other or get along better during the last four years. Chiding Mitsuru about it now won't make any difference.
"He never tried with me." Mitsuru shrugged. Even after his fate had changed, Mitsuru was still very much a loner. He kept to himself most of the time and only allowed one person in his circle. Wataru had been the envy of some of his classmates when found that he was the only one whom Ashikawa Mitsuru befriended.
"And you said I'm strange." Wataru chuckled.
The grade school soon came into view and they saw the small pig-tailed girl standing by the door. Aya's face lit up when she saw her brother. She jumped up from her seat on the steps and ran towards him, enveloping him in an enthusiastic hug.
"Oniichan!" she greeted.
"Sorry to keep you waiting, Aya." Mitsuru smiled, almost tenderly, and smoothed her hair back.
"It's all right. I didn't wait long. Wataru-niisan." She saw him beside her brother and gave him a smile just as bright as the one she gave her brother.
"Hey, Aya." Wataru smiled back.
Aya prattled on about the day's activities, her classmates and what she had learned today, gesturing enthusiastically to punctuate her words. It made Wataru smile at her earnestness. They finally came to the junction where they parted ways, each heading towards home.
Back home Kuniko fussed over the now purpling knot on his forehead, making him sit down at the kitchen table with a glass of water while she went to rummage around the bathroom cabinet for some ointment to put over the knot. She kept a running commentary from the bathroom, between scolding him for being inattentive and fussing over him. She slapped the bandage over the bump, ignoring his yelp of pain, telling him to go wash up and she'd make dinner for tonight.
Wataru tapped the end of the pencil against his cheek as he looked down at his math book. He had been staring at the problem for the past ten minutes and deciding that staring at it won't solve the problem, he pushed his book away. Math was not his favourite subject. History and shop class were more of his preference. He preferred to work with his hands, having excelled in shop class, able to make small bookshelves and fixing electrical things, like the small radio.
He wondered if Mitsuru was home from prep cram yet. At quarter to nine, he found himself reaching for the cordless phone on his bed and dialling the number to the Ashikawa residence. Mitsuru should be home from prep cram by now. It was picked up after two rings, a deep female voice answering. He asked to speak with Mitsuru.
"Wataru?" Mitsuru's voice filled his ear after a few minutes. He didn't sound surprise. He never did when it comes to Wataru.
"I hate algebra," he said.
A laugh was heard and it filled him with warmth. He found himself smiling a little into the phone, despite Mitsuru not being able to see his expression or him.
"You'll never be ready for the exams if you slack off, Wataru," said Mitsuru, laughter still ringing in his voice. Wataru wanted to be there at the moment, just to see that laugh on his face.
"I am preparing," he said, leaning back in his chair. "I just don't go to prep cram so zealously like you."
"I only go three times a week, Wataru, and I'm not zealous."
"How's your head?" There was amusement in Mitsuru's tone. Wataru grinned, despite that his friend was neither here and couldn't see him anyway.
"Better. Kaasan wasn't too happy about it, though."
They talked, mostly about inconsequential things. It didn't matter what topic they were discussing, as long as Wataru get to hear Mitsuru's voice and know that his friend was still here, it was all right. He didn't mind. The conversation lasted about an hour in which Mitsuru finally had to go as he had a lot of homework to be done and to help Aya with hers. Wataru stared at the phone in his hand a beat longer before tossing it onto his bed and to finish his own homework or risk having Sasaki-sensei dole out some punishment or other tomorrow morning.
"Look at Kaori." Kacchan's voice brought Wataru out of his thoughts.
It was mid-afternoon and they were playing softball along with the rest of the boys from their class. On the far side of the field were a group of girls training for the track team. One of them was Kobayashi Kaori, a girl with long dark hair tied up in a high ponytail. She was their classmate and star runner of the school. Right now, the girls were taking a break and were standing around chatting with each other or taking gulps of water from their bottles.
Wataru could see why Kacchan had been so infatuated with Kaori lately. The girl had grown into her womanly figure, all soft curves and pleasing to the eye. It didn't hurt that she was very pretty and clever, coming first in their class during last term.
"Ah, she's just so beautiful," said Kacchan with a sigh, chin propped up against his hand as he stared across the field, a dreamy expression in his brown eyes. "Like an angel sent down from heaven."
"Why don't you ask her to go out with you?" Wataru remarked, scuffing the toe of his boots against the ground. He had heard enough from Kacchan's waxed poetics about Kaori to last him a lifetime.
"Me? With her? Are you joking?" Kacchan slumped in his seat. "She's too cool for me, Wataru. Besides, I heard she's seeing a high school senior."
"You never know if you never try," said Wataru, taking off his hat and fanning his face with it. He watched as Matsushita Iwao slide all the way to home. The umpire shouted safe loudly as Iwao coughed from the small dust cloud that had formed. The red team cheered loudly while the blue team groaned.
"I don't think I can stand the rejection," mumbled Kacchan, slumping down even further. He drew his cap lower over his face. He continued to mutter under his breath about Kaori and the impossibilities of him and her together.
Wataru said nothing, only turning his own words in his head. If you don't try, you never know, is it? Kacchan's words weighed on his mind. That was one reason why he never spoken what he felt out loud. There was the fear of rejection, and the fear of having their friendship changing, for better or for worse.
"Oi, Mitani! Your turn at the bat!" called one of the boys, waving his gloved hand at them.
"Ah, hai!" Wataru pushed the thoughts to the back of his mind, hastily getting up to jog towards the plate. "Coming!"
Mitsuru was by the genkan when Wataru came out, hair still damp from the quick shower he'd taken after the game. The flaxen head was bent slightly as Mitsuru read a book he'd borrowed from the school library. Probably something about abstract art again or the same.
"Is Kazuhiko coming along today?" he inquired, closing his book and stuffing it into his satchel. Kazuhiko was Kacchan's real name. Wataru called him Kacchan when they first met at kindergarten, stating that his real name was a mouthful and the nickname had stuck since then.
"Hmm? Kacchan said he had something to do so we can go first." Wataru hopped on one foot as he slipped his feet into his shoes.
"You should untie the laces first before you push your foot inside," said Mitsuru, pointedly. "Otherwise you'd ruin the shoe."
"Can't be bothered." Wataru gave him a cheeky grin, knowing the careless answer probably annoyed him, though he never showed it openly. "Are we picking up Aya?"
"Not today. Kameko-baasan is picking her up. She said she's running some errands so might as well bring Aya along with her." Mitsuru slung his back over his shoulder. "Aya needs a new pair of shoes anyway."
They walked in silence down the street, turning around the corner of the a building and passing by a group of high school students.
"Hey, Mitsuru," he said, breaking the comfortable silence. He turned to face his friend, leaving him walking backwards.
"Come over to my house for dinner tonight?"
Mitsuru raised an eyebrow. "Why?"
"I don't know. It'll be nice to have you over. You hardly ever come over to my house since last summer. You're always so busy with prep cram." Wataru clasped his hands at the back of his head. He cast a sidelong look at his friend. "I'm making tempura for dinner," he added. He had seen how Mitsuru's eyes had lit up when he offered the tempura prawns to him the other day during lunch.
"I'll need to call Kameko-baasan and tell her." Mitsuru looked over at the river with feigned nonchalance but Wataru had caught the small smile on his face. A grin broke on his own face.
Wataru had brought Mitsuru to his home a few times over the five years. The first time had been after returning from Vision. Mitsuru had been quite reluctant, citing that he didn't really know Wataru well enough and Wataru was very strange but the persistence paid off, and Mitsuru finally agreed to.
Kuniko had remarked what a quiet and polite young man Mitsuru was and then had teasingly asked why Wataru couldn't be like that instead of being so exuberant and loud. Wataru had pouted and pointed his finger at his mother, declaring her a traitor. That had gotten a laugh out of Mitsuru and it had been the first time Wataru had ever heard the stoic boy laugh like that.
The sound has startled him so much that he had stared until Mitsuru stopped laughing, giving him that raised eyebrow, questioning look. It was then Wataru grew to love and cherish that sound. For while Mitsuru rarely smiled, his laughter was even rarer. Only Wataru had ever heard him laugh like that, unbridled and carefree. It was something he wanted to keep inside a crystal jar or one of Aya's music box, to only open it and listen to that melodious sound again and again.
"Which high school do you think you'll go to?" Wataru asked, leaning back on his hands. He looked up at the blue sky, the clouds drifting lazily by.
"I don't know. I supposed it probably doesn't matter much as long it has arts." Mitsuru took a sip of the canned drink in his hand.
"You're happiest when drawing or painting, aren't you?"
Mitsuru shrugged, taking another sip. They were at the park where they had first went to after being beaten up by those sixth graders five years ago. Mitsuru didn't remember any of it because he had no memory of the incident, or when he set that magical shadow beast on the boys last time. Wataru thought it was fate or something that they were sitting on the exact same bench and right by the same vending machine. He didn't mention any of it to his friend.
"What about you, Wataru?"
"I don't-- Well, I suppose I'd like to go to the same senior high school as you, Mitsuru." Wataru crumpled his empty can in hand, tossing it into the wire wastebasket next to the bench. "It'll be nice to spend our three years of senior high school together before we leave for college. Are you going to university?"
"It's too soon to think about it," said Mitsuru. "I don't really want to leave Aya by herself, even if Kameko-baasan can care of her."
Wataru understood. Even if Mitsuru never mentioned it or explained what had happened, Wataru knew. After all, he had seen the tragedy that befell the Ashikawa family and knew about it. It was in a moment like this that Wataru realised what little happiness Mitsuru has, it was as fragile as a brittle shell, easily shattered.
I want to protect you from the world.
Wataru watched the reactions of his classmates, ranging from sheer happiness and relief to disappointment and sadness. The girls emitted loud squeals, embracing each other in congratulations and joy. The boys clapped or slapped each other on the backs, laughing in relief. He smiled, turning to walk away from the results board and noise, heading down the hall towards the front entrance. Kacchan had been most ecstatic, waving his results slip in the air and whooping loudly. Wataru's own results slip was in the front pocket of his uniform.
"Mitsuru." His smile widened when he saw his friend by the genkan. "Congratulations."
"You, too." Mitsuru smiled. "I assume we're going to the same senior high school together, aren't we?"
"Yeah, we are. You're not getting rid of me so easily."
"You're so strange, Wataru," said Mitsuru. He slipped on his street shoes, shouldering his satchel. A lock of his flaxen hair fell over his eyes and Wataru resisted the urge to brush it back away from his forehead.
"Come on, Mitsuru, let's go and celebrate!" Wataru dashed to the door, half-turning to throw a huge grin at his friend. "I'm buying."
The cherry blossoms were in full bloom this year, showering their delicate, fragrant pink petals down, covering the ground until it looked as if someone had splashed a large industrial-sized paint bucket containing pink paint all over the ground. Under the pale light of the moon, the cherry blossoms look almost ethereal, glowing under the light.
Wataru held out the chilled can to Mitsuru. They were at the park again. At this hour, most of the people had left for home.
"Thank you." Mitsuru took the can but didn't open it. He held it in his hands instead.
"Hey, Mitsuru?" Wataru set the can down with a thump. You never know if you never try, is it?
"Can I keep you?"
Mitsuru's eyes widened then fluttered shut as Wataru pressed his mouth against his. Mitsuru's mouth felt soft and he smelled of mint, soap and the boyish scent that Wataru came to like.
"Wataru," murmured Mitsuru, his eyes still closed.
"I want to keep you, Mitsuru. I have been wanting to ever since last year." He placed his hands on Mitsuru's face, thumb caressing the cheek as he leaned in close until their breaths mingled and he could feel the warmth on his skin. He brushed his lips in a soft kiss at the corner of Mitsuru's mouth. "So, can I keep you?" he repeated, in a low voice.
"Yes." The answer was barely audible and almost a whisper but Wataru heard it anyway, and he smiled.
He leaned down to press another kiss on Mitsuru's mouth.
Looking up the Japanese education system just to be as accurate as possible for this story is a nightmare. Ugh. I finally got it down to a pat and could probably tell you about off the top of my head. Elementary schools are from 6 to 12 years, junior high schools are 13 to 15 years and senior high schools are 16 to 18 years. There. They students also go to cram school or prep cram schools during the nights on school nights. Talk about rat race and stress.
The subbed DVD I got had listed Wataru's name as 'Mitani Wataru' but several sites had listed his name as 'Mitsuya Wataru'. I haven't read the book so I don't know which is the correct name but I'm sticking to 'Mitani' as it's the one listed on the DVD. If you've read the book and know which surname it is, let me know so I can correct it.
I don't know what's Kacchan's full name as it was never revealed in the movie or the manga. Wataru just calls him 'Kacchan' but I'm assuming it's a nickname of a much longer name of 'Ka-something'. I tacked Kadokawa Kazuhiko.
A genkan is a shoe boxes or shoe lockers at the entrance of the school where you take off your street shoes and put on the school issued shoes.